from Ask...:

Family ties and helping hands

Unlike their big corporate brethren, small businesses have one key advantage they can tap when the going gets tough: family.

In a pinch a business owner can turn to family members and ask them to help out. A quarter of small businesses have a family member working for free, according to the American Express Open Small Business Monitor.

What do you think? If you're a small business owner, what role does family play in your business?

Recession benefits one Texas small business

This is part of a series of personal accounts about small business and the recession. The writers are contributors to Associated Content.

by Michelle L Devon

If there is a recession going on, I hadn’t noticed. At Christmas, I was the only member of my family to purchase gifts for everyone. My mother said, “It’s been a hard year for everyone.”

“Not for me,” I answered. Business is going great for me.

That’s one of the good things about owning a small business that provides contract services. When a recession hits and layoffs happen, companies merge employee duties so one person takes on the role of two, without additional compensation.

Lack of competition keeps small business afloat

This is part of a series of personal accounts about small business and the recession. The writers are contributors to Associated Content.

by April Hendrickson

I own and operate Pro Dyno High Performance, a 27-year-old automotive performance shop in Phoenix that I took over six years ago.

We provide automotive luxuries — custom exhaust systems, specialty engines, superchargers, etc. — mostly for GM vehicles.

SBA channels Simon & Garfunkel with new lending program

Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills announced a new emergency lending program for struggling U.S. small businesses on Monday, calling it a “bridge over troubled water” for beleaguered entrepreneurs.

Under the new America’s Recovery Capital program, small businesses that meet assistance guidelines will be eligible for up to $35,000 in deferred-payment loans 100 percent guaranteed by the SBA.

According to the SBA: “This new program is intended to give small businesses some temporary financial relief to keep their doors open and get their cash flow back on track so they can maintain existing jobs and ultimately create new jobs.”

Introducing Reuters Small Business

Today marks the launch of Reuters Small Business, designed to provide entrepreneurs with the knowledge they need to innovate and grow their businesses.

We’ve got a dedicated editorial team looking at the stories that matter most to the small business sector, and content from partners like Entrepreneur, BNET, IDG, GreenBiz.com, and Wired. Editor Jon Cook will also be reporting live from the Small Business Week conference in Washington, DC.

Here’s some of what is available this week:

Are you a small business owner or a multimedia entrepreneur? We are looking to build a community of small business owners, and we want to hear from you!

The recession won’t last forever — so get ready

cleaningIt’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when the economy is tanking, but recent headlines suggest that recovery isn’t so far off — and that means small businesses better dust themselves off and brace for a turnaround.

According to small biz expert Rieva Lesonsky, all the inventory-slashing, staff-paring and morale-squashing that’s been the norm of late is bound to backfire when consumers wake up from their recession-induced spending coma and come a-knockin’.

So what’s a small business owner to do in the meantime? Lesonsky offers the following tips:

Five tips to avoid tax scams

William E. Massey– William E. Massey is a senior tax analyst from the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. The views expressed are his own. —

Tax scams are prolific especially in these tough economic times. On the plus side, the IRS has been very good at keeping the public informed about the numerous scams it has uncovered. Each year, it issues a “Dirty Dozen” list of the most notorious scams. In addition, it posts detailed information on tax scams on its Internet site www.irs.gov. Here are five tips for avoiding being victimized by tax scammers.

Tip #1

Someone has promoted a way to for me to save taxes. It sounds good but sounds somewhat fishy at the same time. What should I do?

What’s next for Jane Marvel Handbags?


A highly competitive industry, a failed startup on her resume and the worst recession in a generation didn’t deter Jane Saidenberg from launching her handbag business.

A year later her Jane Marvel line of “lifestyle” bags is going gangbusters, landing on the shelves of more than 300 stores from Alabama to Wyoming and racking up sales of $1 million along the way .

“I was in the entertainment business for many years, but I sort of had this inner crafty weirdness and I would do weird things like sew stuff until 3 or 4 in the morning,” says Saidenberg, who is married to successful music producer Andy Marvel, who has penned hits for Celine Dion and Jessica Simpson. “My husband has been a great supporter. Our pillow talk has changed over the years from newlywed pillow talk to, ‘so how are sales today Honey?’”